Applying for laboratory accreditation

Environmental laboratories in Washington must adhere to numerous proficiency standards to seek and maintain accreditation. Accreditation demonstrates that a lab is able to perform the analytical methods for which they are accredited.

Ecology and most other governmental agencies, as well as many grant providers, require that all scientific samples be assessed by an accredited laboratory. There is a simple process to follow to earn accreditation status for your laboratory. Specific details on how laboratories may seek and maintain accreditation in Washington are outlined on our web pages and guidance documents.

Cartoon line drawings of a florence flask and test tube with green liquid. The test tube has bubbles, some popped.

Start with the manual and application

Steps for applying and maintaining accreditation are detailed in the Procedure Manual for the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program. Download the Application for Environmental Laboratory Accreditation. Also include your Quality Assurance manual, Proficiency Testing study reports, and any third-party accreditation/certification documents with your submission.

Create a Quality Assurance manual

As part of the process, accredited labs must have a Quality Assurance manual. Use the QA Manual Review Checklist and Sample QA Manual, Model of a Quality Assurance Manual for a Small Wastewater Treatment Plant Laboratory, to help you to create this product. The Quality Assurance section of the Procedure Manual (PDF, starting at page 13) has more information.

Collect proficiency testing reports

Include all Proficiency Testing (PT) study reports. Current PTs must be obtained from Proficiency Testing Sample Providers approved by Ecology, either from listed providers or by special arrangement with the Lab Accreditation Unit.

Procedure Manual section on Proficiency Testing (PDF) provides more information.

Find Method Codes: The National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Management System (TNI LAMS) provides a database to identify method codes and analytes.

Pay fees

Check the Fee Schedule for Accreditation of Environmental Laboratories at Chapter 173-50-190 of the Washington Administrative Code for the fee schedule. The fee for accreditation is for a one-year period. Once your application package has been reviewed you will receive an invoice for the fee.

Prepare for application review and audit

An initial on-site audit is required for labs directly accredited by Ecology or by the primary accrediting body if the lab is accredited by third party recognition. Subsequently, drinking water labs are audited every three years and all other labs are audited less frequently. The emphasis in the audit is on documentation and other evidence demonstrating the lab is capable of producing accurate and defensible data.

Contact the Lab Accreditation Unit. For more information, read the On-Site Audit section of the Procedural Manual for the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program.